In a sea of brilliant, talented, witty, funny women, I was drowning.
In my eyes, everyone had something that made them unique, and I had nothing.
I tried to emulate the styles of my social media crushes, to no avail. That style was reserved, already being done, hence why mine felt like a watered down version. Better to be a first-rate version on yourself than a second-rate version of someone else, and all that.
I have been so fixated on others and their uniqueness, that mine wasn’t shining through. Or it was, but I didn’t deem it good enough.
One night, I felt super overwhelmed. Something had put a damper on my plans to move forward, and even though it was only a minor speed bump, it felt like my life was doing a tailspin. I was so overwhelmed that I felt like I needed to do something to gain back control. At least for a little while. My hair is usually my go-to, but I’ve already done ‘the chop’, so there wasn’t really much else to do in that department. So I thought about the next best thing – deleting the social media apps from my phone.
The first few days were difficult. Of course, when I was at work, I wasn’t looking at my phone, so that lack of apps felt normal in that respect. But when on the train or having downtime at home, I was missing my crutch. Whenever I would pick up my phone, there was nothing to look at, except emails (of which I don’t receive many) and messages (again, don’t receive many). My phone had been reduced to oldskool mode — to either send messages, or play games. Suffice to say, I became very good at Super Mario Run during my two-week hiatus.
It was an odd feeling, not being connected to the World Wide Web. Though, of course, I still was. I would still watched YouTube videos as I got ready in the mornings, and caught up with my favourite blogs in the evenings. But there was all this in between time, where I would usually be constantly refreshing Twitter and Facebook, that had suddenly freed up. At around 9pm most nights, after I had showered, gotten dinner together and generally wound down from the day, when I would think, “Well, what now?”
I had more time. More time to write, more time to read, more time to catch up with podcasts. While it wasn’t a transformation of me becoming so much more productive, I definitely felt a difference. Suddenly, I wasn’t looking at this, that or the other person’s profile, checking out what they were up to, why I wasn’t doing that or going to cool events, and eventually twirling down a negative spiral that ended with me feeling glum about what I was doing with my life.
Well, this person started blogging at the same time as me and now they have X amount of followers.
This person’s only been blogging for this amount of time and they have a book deal.
This person started after me and is working with my dream brands.
Comparison is the thief of joy, they say. Whoever ‘they’ are — they’re right. Even though I knew comparing myself to others wasn’t getting me anywhere, I was still doing it. Still torturing myself. And, by extension, I wasn’t getting any writing done because I either a) spent so long on social media that I gave myself no time for writing, or b) spent so much time comparing myself to others that I talked myself out of getting any writing done.
So, I detached myself from social media all together. And during my hiatus, I’ve been more active on the blog than I have been for a while. Irony, eh?
It sounds corny, but I learnt a lot from my time away from social media. I was able to refocus and ask myself, “what do I want from my blog?” Answer: I want to post more of my creative writing, and write stuff I love reading about. And, I was able to repurpose my time, “what do I want to be doing in the time I would usually be checking Twitter?” Answer: keep up with the news and current events, properly. (Although, even that one is a fine line to tread, and could use a break from now and then.)
Quitting social media was like letting out a breath that I had been holding in forever. Like finally going to sleep after a long day. I had underestimated the power of disconnecting for a bit, of not constantly comparing myself to others, and of not being constantly attached to my phone. I felt more present, more open, lighter.
When I was ready to come back to social media, I wasn’t sure how I’d go about reintroducing it back into my routine. Because though I had missed it (mostly catching up with my online buddies), I didn’t want to throw myself back into the comparison hole, or the contantly-refreshing-my-feed spiral. I thought about maybe keeping the social media apps off my phone and only checking them on my laptop, but eventually settled for having them on the second page of my phone, with push notifications turned off, to reduce temptation.
I hope to continue not checking my feeds as religiously and keep giving my writing the attention it deserves. And, maybe, take social media breaks more often. Maybe not for two weeks again, but maybe a weekend here and there of staying offline.
I love the internet and staying connected to people all over the world. But something I forget is that there is a real world out there, too. And experiencing it to the fullest is only going to enhance my growth as a writer.
Have you ever taken a social media time out? Would you ever consider going offline for more than a week or two?